Forecast’s for a breeze of wind, and that’s what we get, a breeze of wind pushing us along from Bruno’s to The Sisters.

The breeze fetches up small windwaves, just robust enough to assist us paddling forward. That assist got me to thinking about a pedal-assist controversy on nearby Mt. Tam.

About that controversy. Pedal-assist ebikes have come to the mountain, but not everyone’s pleased. Fact is, there’s a movement afoot to ban ebikes completely, keep them off the mountain. The Marin Municipal Water District, the governing authority in the watershed, is looking into the issue. Truth to tell, it’s looking iffy for pedal-assist ebikes.

That ebike controversy has nothing to do with paddling on the bay, but it got me to fantasize a “what if.” What if the Coast Guard outlawed kayaks from riding waves? Get nabbed on a wave-assisted paddle, expect 6 months in the brig, or a fine of $1000. Maybe both.

That’s just me fantasizing while I’m on a windwave-assisted paddle, looking over my shoulder for possible trouble.

Last week, I blamed Don’t Follow Don’s late arrival at the launch for a shoulder ache of a paddle against a stiff ebb at Pt. San Pablo. Local gal Fran writes that melting snow in the Sierras could be blamed for our unfortunate encounter, the runoff energizing, invigorating, the ebb.

Thanks, Fran, but it was Don’t Follow Don’s fault. No question about it.

We have another encounter this Thursday, but it doesn’t involve an ebb, isn’t unfortunate, is definitely strange. Heading past Pt. San Pedro out to The Sisters, we see a white tug making its way to the rock quarry. On our way back to the point from The Sisters, we see the tug idling next to a loaded barge next to the quarry’s dock. We keep our distance, respectful of a working tug.

Don’t Follow Don and I round the nearby point, hear 1-of-3 call out behind us, look back, see the tug slowly creeping up on him and Gandalf, the tug no more than 15 feet back, close. The tug’s without a barge. 1-of-3 and Gandalf keep on paddling, reach the point, the tug turns into the shore by the quarry, reverses direction.

We four continue on our way to Party Beach. Several minutes later, looking back, we see the tug pushing a rock-filled barge in the direction of San Francisco. The barge is not the one tied to the quarry’s dock; this barge had been tied to a buoy a quarter  mile offshore.

We can’t reasonably account for the tug’s movements. I could fantasize he was tailing us, wanted to make sure we were paddling legally, not riding windwaves, but I won’t.

We build a windwall on Party Beach, same spot we have in the past, some of the same materials, hunks of broken concrete, big rocks, sections of chain-sawed tree trunks. It’s a good windwall, does its thing, the wind dying down within minutes of its completion.

Chatter around the cookfire includes mention of a scientific study concerned with, among other things, the dietary habits of seagulls. Researchers learn that given a choice, gulls prefer food left by humans. The study concludes that gull health is compromised, at risk, because of the food the birds eat.

Gull health wouldn’t’ve suffered from our evening’s meal, would’ve benefited, but no gulls show up. Green salad with fresh watercress (roots still attached), avocado, pear, apple, walnuts, vinaigrette dressing; battered shrimp; Impossible burgers with onions on garlic bread; mixed fruit flambé.

The evening grows cold, the four of us hunkering closer and closer to the cookfire, fingers and toes warming. After the fruit flambé, I pour pirate chai from my thermos, little spirals of steam climbing out of the four cups. Much appreciated, the pirate chai.

The return paddle to Bruno’s is calm, without windwave assist, more effort required of us, more sweat. Energy expended, sweat spilt, we talk of ways to replenish diminished energy supplies. Pickles—dill pickles—is mentioned as a source of electrolytes, lost electrolytes a cause of fatigue and cramps.

Could be an enhancement to our outings, pickle-assisted paddling. Bet the gulls would benefit, too.


Date: Thurseve, 5 March 2020.

Distance: Five point seven nautical miles.

Speed: One point two knots.

Time: Four point eight miles.

Spray factor: Some.

Dessert: Mixed fruit flambé.

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